I want my grandchildren to have a glimpse into my childhood; what it was like to be raised in the 60’s. I’ve set on a project of writing short stories of being raised in Idylwylde, a small neighbourhood in Edmonton Canada. Then in the manner of the 60’s I’ll snail-mail a hard copy to them. This the first:
Dear Ethan, Jaida and Jasmine:
Idylwylde was a great place to grow up. It was and is the smallest community in Edmonton. Everything was close, including my friends; Jimmy Resler who lived next door, Jackie Cannon across the street, Donnie Hood two doors to our left, across the alley, my best friend, Bobby Henderson and of course, down the street, the lovely Carol Lemmon with whom I was desperately in love.
Our lives followed a comfortable pattern of school, play, supper and bedtime. Saturdays we did chores and played outside till Dad whistled for us to return for supper. Sunday was church in the morning and church in the evening and because it was the Sabbath we did no chores and played few games. In the spring we played baseball down the block at the YMCA. In the summer we played football in the crescent around the corner. In the winter we played road hockey in front of our house.
During the school year breakfast was toast and porridge with lots of milk to drink. I have always been an early riser so when I could be trusted with the stove I became the porridge maker.
Even if we were at risk of being late, mom insisted on bible reading and devotions, which consisted of her reading scripture followed by all us kids kneeling at the kitchen table chairs as mom prayed over us, or, if she was especially convincing, one of us might mumble out a few words of barely audible high speed thanks for Jesus and our food ending with “please keep us safe.”
Jackie or Jimmy were often at the door to walk with me to school, but it didn’t matter, mom still insisted we get on our knees to pray. I don’t know who was more embarrassed, me or my friends.
Our school was called Idylwylde too, and on the way we meet up with other friends. First Bobby across the alley and often Donny Steinbring who’s nick name was “stone-brain”- given to him by a Boy Scout troop leader. Stone-brain lived half way to school and his father was the only one we knew who had his work office in the basement, which at the time we thought was pretty neat.
School was fun, I had many friends and while my grades weren’t great they were good enough to pass, which was important because back then if you failed you stayed behind to repeat the grade.
My first day of school, I was escorted by my older twin brothers Donnie and Dougie — under threat of the strap from our Dad — They dropped me off at the grade one entrance across from the monkey bars and made me promise to wait for them at the end of class.
Mrs. Taylor elderly, kind, and grey haired greeted each of us as we walked up the stairs and then placed us at our desks. We were the class of 1962, her last before retiring. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t especially difficult for her but I also know I wasn’t a model student.
The job of showing the boys the bathroom was given to someone who’s name I cannot recall but who was taller by a head than any of us do to the fact that he was repeating grade one. Walking single file, he led us down the corridor through the “boy’s entrance” into the bathroom.
Most of us had never been in so large a bathroom: lots of sinks, lots of toilet stalls and lots of urinals. Urinals were a new experience for Kim Perkins other wise he would have known not to pull down his pants to pee. Poor Kim, we laughed so hard I’m sure his bum cheeks turned red.
Grade one went quickly and I have just a few memories. I remember Irene missing a lot of school because of sickness; Kim though lacking in world experience made up for it in brains; Dale who was a very fast runner and the first child I met to have only one parent, which in my youth, was a rare thing; Leslie who was my rival as the most popular boy in our class; And I remember the tall boy who repeated grade one and would never be the most popular boy in class.